One reason why many quilt artists prefer to fuse rather than piece their quilts is because piecing can be time-consuming.
But with the rise of the modern patchwork quilt (and the availability of pre-cut, coordinated fabric packs like jelly rolls), hand and machine piecing are making a comeback among contemporary quilters.
There are ways to speed up the process, though. In her book Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration, contemporary patchwork quilter and fiber artist Malka Dubrawsky explains several techniques for making quick—or quicker—work of putting the pieces of your patchwork quilt together.
The method you use will often depend on the shape of the fabric to be pieced. Chain piecing is a perfect way to piece together a series of same-size squares.
"I liken chain piecing to having an electric garage door opener—it's not essential, but it's so amazingly handy," writes Malka. "Chain piecing allows you to machine sew multiples of the same shape without cutting your thread."
How to Chain Piece
1. Place 2 squares right sides together.
2. Beginning with the first pair, machine stitch the squares together, maintaining a ¼" seam allowance.
3. Once the first pair of squares has passed underneath the presser foot, sew a couple of extra stitches while gently holding the seamed squares. This creates a small chain of stitches separating the first pair of squares from the next. Do not cut the thread.
4. Position a second pair of squares under the presser foot and stitch. As in the first pair, continue stitching past the edge of the fabric. Repeat this process until all the squares are stitched into pairs.
5. Use thread snippets or scissors to snip the pairs apart, as shown.
There's another way to piece together one of Malka's quilts: The Fresh Quilting Puzzle, inspired by the fun, contemporary patchwork baby quilt pictured above, from her book.
"I like to make puzzles and have since I was a kid," says Malka. Judging by the feedback she's received on her quilt puzzle, she says that quilters and crafters in general seem to like puzzles.
I know I do—must be the sign of a creative mind. I think The Fresh Quilting Puzzle would make a great gift for all the quilt piecers and puzzle lovers I know.
P.S. Do puzzles and quilting go hand in hand (or piece by piece)? Are you a puzzle lover? Let me know in the comments section below.